Healthcare bloggers on workplace bullying

We’re seeing more commentary about workplace bullying by healthcare bloggers, and that’s good news.

Bearing witness

Carey Goldberg, co-host of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, introduces her piece on workplace bullying by recounting the experiences of bullied friends:

Over the last couple of years, I’ve watched three friends suffer through jobs turned bad by bully bosses. It was horrifying and infuriating, to see three virtuous, diligent, intelligent people laid low in ways that struck not just the wallet but the deepest sense of self.

I appreciated that Ms. Goldberg interviewed me at length for this piece and included many of my comments.


Julie Deardorff, writing for Julie’s Health Club hosted by the Chicago Tribune, centers her attention on the experiences of nurses:

Verbal abuse is so common in the nursing profession that the expression “nurses eat their young” has become standard lore. The unflattering saying refers to the hostile treatment — back stabbing, intimidation and sabotage — that new nurses often receive from senior colleagues.


During the summer, nurse Kristin Hayes blogged about ties between workplace bullying and medical malpractice:

For example, imagine a nurse discovers that a doctor has made a grave error. This doctor frequently yells at her and she is intimidated by him. He has worn down her self-esteem to the point that she questions her own judgment. Rather than voice her opinion and subject herself to more emotional abuse the patient is misdiagnosed and a life threatening illness goes untreated.


I’ve blogged on numerous occasions about bullying in healthcare, including this four-part series. The dovetailing of worker dignity and public health make healthcare an ideal focal point for efforts to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.

2 responses

  1. Workplace violence, staffing shortages, and medical errors are all interconnected. I think consumers need to know more about what is going on in healthcare systems and we should invite them to be part of the process of developing safer care and respectful work environments. There is some effort here in terms of teaching patients/families to ‘speak up’, but without teaching healthcare professionals to LISTEN RESPECTFULLY and making sure we have time for this, it is a very limited effort.

    Year after year after year the Joint Commission’s stats show that communication failure is the leading root cause of sentinel events. We need more time, we need more staff, and we need to work in workplaces where we are treated and treat each other respectfully. This is about changing behaviors though and checklists, communication models and engineering safety, although important, are not enough. We need to get at the underlying dynamics. Sadly, our tough economy fuels fear and allows employers to continue to treat employees disrespectfully. This trickles down and contributes to a variety of aggressive and passive-aggressive behaviors.

    Check out ANA-ME webpage on workplace violence and my own recent newsletter and website: (scroll for article: Workplace Violence, Poor Communication & Medical Errors: What Should We Tell Consumers?)

    Beth Boynton, RN, MS, Author of Confident Voices: The Nurses’ Guide to Improving Communication & Creating Positive Workplaces

  2. Appreciate your article. It is not just nurses feeling the bullying, it is in Healthcare Administration too. Billers, Coders, front end registrars, you name it. We have to do more with less and with no respect from bosses who Kiss Up, Kick down. The money is suppose to be coming in at the same rate it always has but insurance companies are not paying! NOT PAYING.

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